Friday, October 28, 2011

Whooo's Afraid of the Dark? Try These Owl Calls at Home

Halloween is a great time to spotlight some of the nocturnal creatures that many people might hear, but never see. During the Tennessee Aquarium's, "Thrills, Gills and Chills" visitors can stop by Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari for special programs like, "Creatures of the night." Guests might meet 'Blinky' and 'Stan.'

Blinky is an Eastern screech owl. Aquarium aviculturists like Amy Graves and Loribeth Aldrich let visitors know that even though you might not see one of these beautiful birds in your own backyard, you have probably heard them. They sometimes make a sound like a horse whinny.
Stan, the Aquarium's Eurasian eagle owl, has more of a deep hoot when he vocalizes. It really sounds like he's saying "whooo." Eurasian eagle owls are one of the largest owl species in the world, while Eastern screech owls are one of the smallest. It's pretty cool to see these birds brought out during programs to compare sizes.

Amy and Loribeth will also tell you to try calling barred owls in your own backyard. "You don't even have to be very good at it," says Tennessee Aquarium senior aviculturist Amy Graves. Just go out in your backyard in the evening and try hooting rhythmically. Graves says it sounds like someone saying, "Who cooks for you. Who cooks for you all." If you're doing it halfway right, you'll get a response like this:

While that's fun, you might get frightened if you're trying to call to a barred owl and a juvenile great horned owl is in the area. Listen to its chilling call on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.

That's nothing. An owl call that will send you running is the barn owl. YIKES!!! I'm outta here!

Happy Halloween.

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